Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: UUA Wordpress Theme -- A Further Look, Part 3 (UUA Services Plugin, Ideas for the Future, Content)

The really neat thing about the new UUA Wordpress Theme is the UUA Services Plugin.  This solves the problem I didn't even really  know I had, and does it very elegantly.

Sunday Services Plugin

The problem: how to we advertise our Sunday service topics on the website?  And how do we do it such that we don't have to update weekly?  Previously, I had looked at three options.  One was what I ended up with: create posts monthly that list the month's services.  This only has to be updated once per month, and that's the advantage.  The disadvantage is that it doesn't list them individually.  There are other disadvantages, too.  Another option would be to put posts up weekly.  The big disadvantage there is the weekly nature of this for a church with no full-time staff except myself.  Another option would be to create them as "events" with the Events plugin.  This carries with it extraneous information like location as a mandatory part of the posts. 

The UUA Services plugin gives you a new post type of services.  And it has the fields that are relevant for you (title, description, date, speaker), and not the ones that aren't (like location, or price).  Then it gives you two pages to display this on -- Upcoming Services and Past Services -- as well as the box on the Home page, and ability to put this list in any of your widget areas (footer, sidebar, Home page).  It displays nicely, and you can update them monthly, yearly, weekly, whatever, and it will store your services in date order, with this week's at the top, and then move it over to the past services after it's done.  Then you can go back in and add the podcast or the full text of the sermon, or whatever.

The other solutions to the services problem were all like putting square pegs into round holes.  This is the round peg, and it's nicely crafted. 

Ideas for the Future

Now that this solved the problem I barely knew I had, it makes me want more!  Wouldn't it be nice to have a Religious Education plugin where we could add weekly information about what's going on in religious education that would function similarly?  Well, maybe for the next version...  For right now, you could add it in with the Sunday services. 

Another thing that came up in my messages with Christopher Wulff, designer of the UUA Theme is how to handle emergency notifications.  He noticed that my church website has a page for announcing emergency closures.  With a rural location in the snowy North, this is something that happens once a year or so.  He said he was thinking about creating a banner that could be turned on for the Home page that would be something we could use for things like this, and asked if we would use such a thing.  The answer for us is yes!  And if people don't want to use it, it's an extra they can ignore.


The content suggestions are wonderful, and something I'm slowly working my way through.  I'd love to have the content information as a Word file, not just as something I have to be careful about uploading because it may erase my existing content.  However, I'm overjoyed at its existence.  The information provided with the theme gives not only best practices, but also sample copy, and tells you things like "Our tree tests show that a significant minority of users will look for information about the choir and about religious education programs under Connection.  Make sure your page includes links to the Choir and Learning pages."  This is extremely useful information that will help congregations a lot.  I'm incorporating all of this slowly into my page, but it's really good to know that the information is here to help me. 

This is where I think the UUA really went above and beyond with this theme.  I was looking for a theme like any other them, but geared toward congregational use.  This theme and its materials gave me SO much more that it's like Christmas for my webpage.  Thank you!!